Bill Brown, who was a District Commissioner in pre-independence Papua New Guinea reviews a memoir from Michael O’Connor who was a patrol officer then:
Oâ€™Connor rails against the â€œclever people â€¦ those academics, bureaucrats and others drawn from their experience of a sophisticated metropolitan societyâ€.
The clever people â€œdecided that DDT should not be used because birds might die. So the program was abandoned, malaria returned in full force and people died as a result … the malarial control program that involved spraying every hut and house with DDTâ€.
In fact, the program morphed through many stages, brought about as adjustments were made to the WHOâ€™s worldwide eradication program, in the early days with considerable input from the Maprik based malariologist, Dr Wally Peters.
The first insecticide used, dieldrin, had a short residual effect and it was replaced by DDT in 1959. The people were the strongest opponents of DDT, sometimes resorting to threats of violence to prevent their villages being sprayed.
In 1969 the program was modified, and the spray changed to a mix of malathion and DDT, but overall DDT was sprayed for some 30 years.